I felt it was interest to clearly explain why I call myself a consultant and what that really means. I get frustration when I see people become disabled on Monday and by Friday there have a nice looking website promoting themselves as a disability consultant, especially when they assume they are the first person to be a disability consultant and their knowledge is minimal.
I am not a consultant because I have cerebral palsy. While my impairments may help me better understand the issues, I have needed to learn about disability issues in a way that goes far beyond my own experiences, needs or wants. I am a consultant because of the experience and expertise I have gathered over almost 40 years by working, living, studying and observing many issues in many ways.
As a consultant I certainly do not represent anyone but rather I inform my clients of the range of viewpoints that exist on a specific issue and how those viewpoints may have be formed. In this way, I offer something very different to the demand culture of user led charities as I see room for and promote discussion on the bigger picture. A user group of 10 ‘disabled people’ will only represent the wants of 10 people that may or may not help other people unless training is provided to empower them to become consultants.
I added activist into my job title because I am active and I do get things done. I may be a gentle lion but I am certainly not a tamed lion and that fighting spirit has not disappeared just because I work well with professionals as my equals.